Title: A Life of High Adventure
Word Count: 4,424
Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *Parent-to-child violence*.
Summary: Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Molly Prewett who dreamed of a life of high adventure.
Author's/Artist's Notes: With thanks to KC for brit-pick and typo patrol.
When she is a little girl, Molly Prewett dreams of High Adventure. At six, her stated ambition is to become a Dread Pirate upon the High Seas. For her eighth birthday, her new Silver Star broomstick clutched in hand, she blows out the candles on her cake, and dreams that she’ll fly for England in the Cup. When she turns ten, she decides that she will become a private eye, or a spy, or a daring girl reporter.
At eleven, she is not a little girl, but a big girl and Going Away To School. It’s something she’s waited to do all her life, but as thrilling as Hogwarts is, it’s less wonderful than in her little girl dreams. Her brothers are there, too, but far too much the popular set to pay much attention to their firstie sister. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, and Molly finds they were much more enjoyable and fun as a holiday treat. She supposes that a Christmas dinner every day would pall on anyone. In fact, to her disappointment, many of those whose company and friendship she’d previously enjoyed turned out to be rather less charming with proximity and contact.
She has met some new friends, though. Anju Patil, Katerina Romanova, Poppy Sinclair, and Leah Pfeffermann are her dormitory mates. Arthur Weasley, Stephen Bell, Archie Bones, and Adnan Batur round out their year on the boys’ side - and they’re mostly tolerable.
At twelve, her mother has a stern talk with her about ‘that fast crowd at school’ and asks her to think of the family reputation. Molly listens and nods in the places that her mother seems to want her to, wondering why the boys are allowed in wink-and-nod fashion to do all the things that would ‘ruin the family’ should a girl do them. That September at school, Molly signs up for the Duelling Club to the disdain of her brothers, a scolding from some of her cousins, and a Howler over Sunday breakfast from her mum and one over dinner from her father.
Professor Flitwick and Deputy Headmaster Dumbledore speak with Molly after she stops crying, then Dumbledore himself writes to her parents. There is nothing further said on the matter, though her mother looks as if she’s been sucking acid drops all of Christmas break.
Turning thirteen is an eye-opener. Boys who previously didn’t notice her react as if she has suddenly fallen from the moon. They do stupid things to get her to even look at them, without really thinking that they’re acting like a bunch of Hairy McBoons. It’s irritating. What’s more irritating is that they speak to her jubblies, and not to her face.
"I’m sorry, but my ears are up here!"
What’s more irritating than that is that there is too much of a good thing - though Molly is of two minds as to whether it’s a good thing. On the one hand, her stays are feats of supportive engineering. On the other hand, she looks great in a jumper. The best thing is that her marks are the best in her year, and she takes the trophy cup for duelling in her age group - her name is on the same cup as Minerva McGonagall’s!
Her fourteenth birthday goes... badly. Mother and her aunts ‘have a talk’ with her before the party. They want her to understand the world waiting for her. They don’t want her to set her sights on something that she’ll never be able to have. Tradition and heritage are important, not in the way that high-and-mighty fools with nothing but blood-pride make it seem, but there are other ways that witches honour those traditions. There are going to be some people - boys - at her party that she did not invite. Some of the people Molly did invite will not be able to be present. They understand she’s upset, they do, but just think of your future and your dear children-to-be, Molly.
And her brothers. Bless them. Oh, bless them both for the prats and pranksters that they are. Gideon and Fabian don’t so much as tip the apple cart as blow it to Kingdom Come. They’ve invited their friends, and all the people Molly had originally asked. The adults are livid, but it’s the boys after all. Though why anyone wouldn’t want Arthur Weasley at a party escapes her, as he’s not a complete Hairy McBoon. Molly dances with whomever she pleases that night, and her dance card is full.
For her fifteenth, she has a party, but there’s also a tea. Not a fun tea, but a tea with lace-collared dresses that itch, and sitting on Nana’s old horsehair sofa while the elves wheel in the cart with the Goblin silver tea service. She meets the Malfoys, the Scrimgeours, and the Crouches. The Moodys, the Diggorys, the Figgs, and the Abbots come to a picnic on the river after the day after that.
Or rather, the seniors of those families come - most bring along with their eligible sons. Molly finds that rather than being all atwitter over an impending engagement, she’s rather nauseated. It’s not what she imagined for herself, not by any means. Her main comfort is that marrying before sitting NEWTs and leaving school is simply Not Done. It’s possible that she can wheedle for a year on the Continent, just the way Mummy and her aunts each had before becoming formally engaged.
Either way, it’s a deep relief to be back at school, though she misses Gideon and Fabian terribly. And it is puzzling that Arthur hasn’t been more... noticeable until just now. He dances as naturally as a bird flies at the Yule Ball and she doesn’t even care that he’s wearing a set of dress robes that belonged to Gideon - they look just perfect on him.
And when he kisses her under the mistletoe...
Eventually someone tells them they’re blocking traffic and will you please bloody well move?
And they do.
Not to the Astronomy Tower, but to the stacks of the quiet library, where Molly decides that either kissing gets less credit than deserved, Christmas pudding is an aphrodisiac, or Arthur is quite marvellous at it. Subsequent returns to the library prove that it is actually Arthur.
As it turns out, Arthur is good with much more than kissing.
That spring, right after OWLs, she and Arthur have a nervous three weeks. The first time was like being swept away, but once Auntie Dot shows up, they promise each other that they will Be Careful from here on out. Going home for the summer is not the high point of the year.
On her sixteenth birthday, Molly receives notice that she’s taken top marks on her OWLs that she manages to lever into a temporary escape from what she’s come to think of as the Marriage-Go-Round. Her whole fifth year as presented to her parents revolved around her marks, causing Mummy to run through a parade of Ravenclaw alumni over the spring holidays. However, Molly is due a reward and not above using her leverage to get it. Besides, who could object to meeting up with her friends on Diagon Alley?
As long as it’s just the girls, nobody. Her mother cautions without ceasing that she should never, ever meet with boys unless there’s a chaperone.
"Fabian and Gideon meet up with girls all the time." The lavender hair ribbon goes best, and Molly finishes her French braid with it. "They’re right gadabouts."
"Those are not any girls I’d have in my house, Molly Prewett, and don’t you forget it. Father had a talk with them, and they know better than to bring me a Gretna Green bride." Molly fixes her hair ribbon as her mother bites the last word short and clucks her tongue. "Now get along. I’ll expect you back no more than an hour before dinner, and stay out of the Muggle side of things."
And it’s not as if she’s lying about it. Molly, Poppy, and Leah are very much in evidence on Diagon Alley, shopping, having tea, and trying on new dresses. They’re doing all the things one expects young London-area witches with their new broomsticks to do. However, it’s Arthur’s summer job at Flourish and Blotts that’s the draw for Molly, and the kisses stolen in the dusty back shelves.
It’s too risky to carry a token with her, so even when he can buy her one - a small enameled-silver ring with his family crest - Molly can’t wear it.
"Arthur Weasley, what are you asking me?" Molly is very glad to be sitting in his lap, because she feels as if she’s been hit with someone’s best effort at the Jelly-Legs curse. The ring in her hand means more to her than her mother’s love. "Are you asking me?"
"Not before NEWTS, but... it’s my promise to you, Molly."
When Molly remembers how she used to imagine her life, it was always a grand adventure with something new over every horizon. That’s been missing for a long time. When she imagines being married, it’s not to the men looking for a compliant, unworldly, yet appropriately-educated young (meaning virgo intacta) wife. A little doll of a wife, stuck in the niches of the drawing room and the nursery. Her mind rebels at the thought, but as yet Molly cannot find anything tangible with which to replace it.
Molly unties the bow from her hair, and carefully weaves the little ring into the underside of her plait, hidden but still there. The ribbon she gives to Arthur, hiding it by folding and tying it under his black cravat. It’s a promise, though of what she can’t say.
After the marathon pressure of fifth year, sixth is a bit of a breeze, and Molly finds that picking subjects to suit herself is every bit as satisfying as she thought it might be. Apparition, Defence against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Magical Theory, Advanced Charms, and Ancient Studies might not be on anyone’s qualifications list for housewife, but Molly has not yet made up her mind. Besides, Mummy’s reported on some very odd goings on, and has given overt approval to Molly continuing with the duelling club and picking up a NEWT in Defence. When Mummy sounds a little nervous, it’s the next thing to panic.
And Mummy never panics.
Over the Christmas holidays, Molly tries to probe, but nobody’s talking. Father and Uncle Ignatius spend long hours at the Ministry, and Aunt Lucy stays with Molly and Mummy at Larkhill. Molly is allowed to go out, but always - no exceptions - must be home one hour before sunset. Then, one night, as Molly is going to the loo, there’s a strange green flash of light over the Abbot’s place, and then an absolutely ghastly... thing floats in the sky. A skull with a snake coming out of its jaws.
Mummy, Aunt Lucy, and Molly sit up all night. In the morning, Father and the boys come home - but not Uncle Ignatius. The house goes from Christmas to funereal and Molly is in shock. The wake is held in the drawing room, and Molly sees Uncle Iggy still and dead. It drives something horrible into her heart, knowing somebody did that and is walking about as free as a bird.
Back at school, the ugliness follows her in. Druella Flint calls Uncle Iggy a blood traitor and says he deserved what he got. When called before the headmaster to explain why she punched her cousin in the nose, Molly replies that it was so she wouldn’t hex Dru’s nasty mouth to the other side of her head.
It was fully worth the 100 points from Gryffindor.
And Arthur. Maybe she is only sixteen. At one time sixteen looked old and wise, but standing in the shoes of sixteen, Molly can’t say she’s feeling any older or any wiser about anything than she did last year or the year before. One thing that of which Molly is certain is that Arthur will always back her up, and never turn and run. He’s no Hairy McBoon, and he’s not going to run about slaying dragons, but he is... steadfast.
Molly likes that.
The school year ends, and there is something of a change. Molly, Mummy, and Aunt Lucy will not be staying at home in Larkhill, but in London. By now, Molly knows that Uncle Iggy’s death had to do with some kind of pureblood thing - some are even saying it’s Grindelwaldians all over again. And it’s certainly exciting to think about being in London all the time, but her prime cause for concern is how much time this will take away from her seeing Arthur. He has his own small flat on Theoretic Alley and, presumably, a bed.
Upon arriving at the house on Phillimore Place, she finds that her time will be not at all. Mummy informs her that there are some urgent suits being brought for her hand, and that it was time to begin considering her future - right this very minute.
"I don’t want to get married right away, and not to some man who was in school when I was in the cradle." Molly says, with what she hopes is an air of finality. "I’ll not consider a husband for a year, maybe two, after I’ve finished school."
The gauntlet is cast, the battle joined, but Molly holds her ground. No, she will not. No. This is not the nineteenth century. Not getting married right out of school. Paris. Or Rome. Somewhere that’s Not England.
"And I know the law. There’s nothing to make me wed someone I don’t want to wed, and I’d not wed Rufus Scrimgeour - he’s a second cousin." For heaven’s sake, Molly had nothing against the man, but he was nearly thirty! "Any more cousin-marriage in this family and my children be born with ears on their elbows."
Aunt Lucy’s tea goes out her nose at that.
It’s a fond memory for Molly to keep while facing down her father. Ferris Prewett is actually livid, and draws his wand on her - and Molly raises her own. Never, never has she been angry with either of her parents. Until this moment in her father’s study, she has been certain that they love her. Until now, she has been certain that Mummy and Father want her safe, and well, and happy. And of all things of which she remains certain, one of them is that you do not ever raise your wand to someone you purport to love and threaten to hex them into obedience.
"I am not someone’s property, I am not someone’s bloodstock. I am Rosemary Beatrice Abigail Prewett, and I will not be threatened into a marriage I do not want." Molly wants to cry, her knees want to shake, and her heart feels as if it’s tearing itself in two. "And if you cast that hex, it is the last you will ever see of me."
When she can stand again, Molly crawls to the staircase and with a tight grip on the bannister, makes it to the next floor. After a few more minutes, she manages to crawl to her room and open the door. The house around her is as silent as a tomb. Her school trunk is still mostly packed, but Molly puts a few things from home in it and thinks she’s glad this isn’t Larkhill. Because if it was Larkhill, her home, it would half kill her to leave. And leave Molly does, with nothing but her broom, her trunk, her school bag, and the clothing she stood up in. Not even the elves, the faithless things, wish her a good-bye.
At the kerb, Molly raises her wand and calls the Knight Bus. The conductor helps her with her trunk, gets her seated, and though she asks to be taken to the Three Broomsticks, they bring her to St. Mungo’s instead.
From there, everything goes right to hell, but it seems so odd and disjointed - as if she’s only really there for bits of it. Then a nurse smiles at her and says it’s all getting sorted, so sleep a bit, Rosemary.
"My name’s Molly."
When she wakes, it’s in a private room, not a ward. A soft June rain ticks against the windows and in the rectangle of light from the corridor, a paper cup of tea sits incongruously on the tiled floor. A blue-sleeved arm reaches down and picks up the cup, and Molly’s brain fits the information together. She’s in hospital, and there’s an auror outside her door. Why?
She can’t have been arrested for leaving home because she’s of age.
Today. She is legally of age today. Molly is seventeen today. Happy birthday, Molly.
"Miss Prewett? Are you awake?" The man outside her door calls softly.
It takes a mighty effort to get a grip on herself, but she’s proud when her voice doesn’t shake. "Yes. I am."
"Might I speak with you over the events of yesterday evening?"
That makes her blink. "Yesterday evening?"
"I’m terribly sorry, but you’ve slept the clock almost twice around." The auror is gentlemanly, not looking in the door. "It’s Sunday evening. Not Saturday."
"I- Yes. Of course. Might... might I freshen up a bit?"
"Of course, Miss Prewett. Your trunk and other belongings are in the wardrobe. Do you need a matron?"
Molly tries getting out of bed before she answers. Her legs hold up, and she is able to get her wash bag out of her trunk. "No, no. I’m fine. Thank you."
The light in the bath makes her wince, and then her reflection. Pale and puffy with big black circles around her eyes, Molly stares back at her self. "It could have been worse."
Her reflection nods knowingly, and replies. "I’ve seen worse, dearie. Have a pee, get cleaned up and I’ll let the matron know you’re good for the tea cart."
"Any ginger creams?"
"Scarfed last night by that auror. How about some Garibaldis?"
"Lovely. Thank you."
The reflection departs and Molly has that pee, puts on something decent and goes back into the room, sitting on the cot.
The tea cart as a squeaky wheel, and Molly hears it stop just short of the doorframe. The auror has another cuppa and jaffas, and floats Molly’s tea and Garibaldis in without comment.
"Please come in, Auror... I don’t believe you gave your name." The tea is delicious, the best she’s had.
"Well." There comes a long, very uncomfortable pause. "Actually, Miss Prewett... this is entirely awkward... it’s Rufus Scrimgeour."
"Indeed." He enters the room, tea in hand. He’s tall, which she expects, and red-haired as so many of the old purebloods are. Molly notices the slight limp, and the wand in a fast-draw position on his left forearm. "However, for the record, we’ve not actually met. You’ve met my parents, I believe."
This is strictly true - she’s met them and seen photographs of Rufus Scrimgeour. "Your parents simply explained that your duties kept you."
"The technical, if not factual, truth." He takes the chair at bedside, continuing. "When, I saw how young you were, I raised serious objections. I am an auror, Miss Prewett, and I think you know by now what that means. I meant to offer condolences to you last year on the death of Ignatius Prewett, he was a very brave man, speaking out as he did."
Molly nods graciously. "Thank you, Auror Scrimgeour."
"Your father has spoken with Aurors Pinkney and Langford. However, I’d like to hear your side of it." He takes out a Dictaquill and a scroll. "I may take your statement, or I will await a contact from your solicitor."
"There’s... there’s very little to say." There’s that horrible, hot stinging around her eyes and her lip wobbles against her will. "He insisted on arranging the marriage. I didn’t want to marry right out of school and he. I thought. He raised his wand to me. And I raised mine back but I never thought he’d."
The quill scratches on the parchment and Auror Scrimgeour hands her a handkerchief. "Did you cast?"
"N-no. I didn’t think he’d do anything like that. I really didn’t and he’s my father and I thought-" The sentence ends in a horrible, ugly sob to match the horrible, ugly hurt in her heart. If he’d struck her, that would not have hurt so much, but he hexed her. And when you threw a hex, you threw it with feeling - you had to mean it. "He was my f-father and I thought he l-loved me."
Maybe some girls can cry prettily, but Molly can’t. She gets red-faced, red-eyed and snotty and she’s ruining the man’s handkerchief by throttling it in her lap.
"If I were inclined to be charitable, Miss Prewett, I would say your father wants you safely married." There’s a crinkle as he opens his jaffas. "However, I have been an auror for nearly as many years as you have been alive, and I am not a charitable man. The one place a child should be safe from harm is in her own home, with her own kin."
It takes some time to wrestle herself back to order and she sips her tea as she composes herself. "But there isn’t really any place that’s truly safe any longer, is there Auror Scrimgeour?"
Not with the things hinted about in the news, on the wireless, even whispered in the Great Hall of Hogwarts.
"No, Miss Prewett, there’s not. Perhaps especially not as the spouse of an auror, and I would not willingly put anyone in that position - except another auror."
The statement takes little time, and Molly finds herself wrung out after. Auror Scrimgeour stands to go, bowing slightly.
"It’s the recommendation of your admitting physician that you remain in hospital for at least another day. I’ve advised your brothers of your whereabouts, and promised to report on your condition when I could." The Dictaquill and her statement are tucked away in his uniform coat. "May we meet again under more auspicious circumstances, Miss Prewett."
"I didn’t know that you knew my brothers, Auror Scrimgeour." Nobody, not even Mummy, has been able to suss out where they live, or anything beyond that they ‘work at the Ministry.’
"A prudent man, Miss Prewett, should know for his own peace of mind where Gideon and Fabian are at all times. Good evening, and do try to rest."
Gideon and Fabian take her to their flat the next morning, and the first thing out of their mouths is about Arthur Weasley. So much for discretion and secrecy!
"Come on, Molly! You wanted to be a pirate!" Gideon slips a waffle onto her plate. They can do that without elves? "Now you want a passel of redheaded brats?"
"Well, I have missed the two of you..." The waffle’s better than elf-made, and Molly slathers on the peach preserves. "Did you make this? No, truly. He’s kind, he’s decent, he keeps his promises, he dances like a dream."
"And kisses like a house afire?" Fabian suggests, then ducks when Molly throws the sugar shaker at his head. "Ease up! We’ve already had a talk with him- Don’t throw the waffle!"
Molly finds that the older she gets, the more she likes her brothers. While they won’t let her far out of sight during her healing, they do invite Arthur over to their place to visit. And healing up aside, it’s the best summer Molly can remember. There are games nights, with cards, chess, puzzles, and Muggle games like Scrabble. Molly learns to cook, and when something doesn’t turn out, Gideon and Fabian take a long time coming back with the take-away.
And there are plans made.
"Gretna Green." Molly turns it over in her mind, pulling the covers up over them both. "I’d say we go right after we take NEWTs."
Arthur tucks his arm around her, kissing her cheek. "Uncle Billius left me his property in Ottery St. Catchpole. Molly, it’s not much. It’s a bit of a wreck, honestly, and there’s a ghoul in the attic."
"But it will be ours, Arthur." Not just a house, but a home of their own. "And we can get through the year with that."
And it’s a year to get through. There’s a lot of people giving both her and Arthur the cut, some who surprise her and some who don’t. There are others who have never spoken to her before who smile at them and come over for a chat in the Three Broomsticks on a Hogsmeade weekend. Aside from her brothers and Aunt Muriel, nobody from the family bothers to contact her. There’s a lot of studying, no privacy, and she does love school but it’s taking too bloody long!
With all the pressures piling on, perhaps it’s to be expected when something slips up over the spring holidays.
At first, Molly puts it down to stress when Aunt Dot misses Easter. When she was healing up Aunt Dot’s visits were erratic, too.
By the middle of April, there’s no Aunt Dot. Moreover, a discreet reading of Leah’s apprentice-healer’s texts leave no room for doubt. Molly is around eight weeks pregnant, going from the date of her last monthly.
After she stops throwing up from panic, Molly tells Arthur. After Arthur stops throwing up, they tuck up in the library to plan.
"NEWTs are in four weeks, Arthur." Molly’s stomach spins again when she thinks of taking the examinations at three months pregnant. "They last for a another week after that."
"We’ll leave the day after, just sneak off. It’s a short hop by broom." Arthur whispers. "Are you alright?"
"May I ask you something, Arthur?"
"Of course, Molly."
"When you were six, what did you want to be?" It’s a question that she didn’t know that she wanted to ask, but Molly holds her breath for the answer.
"At six?" Arthur laughs, going as red as his hair. "I was going to be a pirate, and live a life of high adventure."
Molly laughs out loud at the unexpected relief that answer gives her, hushing at sharp ‘Sh!’ from the stacks.
"I love you, Arthur. Everything’s going to be fine."
And they’ll have all the high adventure they ever dreamed.